GOVERNMENT has in the recent past invested heavily in the road sub-sector in its quest to improve the socio-economic status of its citizens.
This investment has come at a great cost as Government has had to borrow to finance this very important undertaking.
There is evidence that the country’s road network and infrastructure have greatly improved and people are able to access areas that were previously thought impossible.
People can access the market for farm produce in good time much as they can reach health facilities in record time because of easier connectivity and better quality of roads.
Roads have opened up far-flung areas for economic activity across the country. The Link Zambia 8000, which is half-way done, is the signature project which has made Zambians proud of their own country.
Sadly though, some of these roads are wearing out fast because of highly questionable quality of works.
For instance, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recently took a swipe at consultants for defending shoddy road works.
This was when the committee inspected the 104km of D104/D791 Chipata to Mfuwe road, where PAC committee members said consultants must desist from defending shoddy works and safeguard the meagre public resources the nation has.
The road the PAC inspected showed portions of failure.
PAC members noted that some consultants were busy shielding the contractors’ shoddy works.
The Chipata-Mfuwe road is just a tip of the iceberg about road works which have failed to live to tax-payers’ expectations.
Other roads under spotlight for poor workmanship include Lumumba Road, which is in a deplorable state, and the Tokyo Way or Ring Road, which has developed depressions in some segments and is making motorists uncomfortable. Some patches of the Great East Road between Luangwa Bridge and Nyimba are very poor despite the road having been done this year.
The Kafue-Mazabuka road is also another piece of infrastructure which is also run down like it was constructed in the 1960s, yet it was done recently.
Roads are constructed and rehabilitated at a huge cost to the tax-payer and, therefore, expectations are that they should stand the test of time.
Zambians remember too well that roads which were constructed in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s were very durable.
If the roads built in the past stood the test of time, why are roads being put up in this era not durable despite Government spending huge sums of money?
President Lungu has sent a reminder to the contractors participating in the construction of roads: the country expects maximum return on investment.
President Lungu has, therefore, warned against shoddy works because Government is spending a lot of money on building roads and other social infrastructure.
The President made the warning in Kawambwa on Thursday when he commissioned the construction of the 122km Kawambwa-Mporokoso road, which will cost US$142.2 million.
President Lungu was very categorical when he warned that Government does not expect sub-standard roads and other infrastructure and directed the contractor, supervising engineers – Andosa Consulting – and the Road Development Agency to ensure that the road is constructed within prescribed standards.
Good roads are critical to the realisation of the economic diversification agenda Government is vigorously pursuing.
We expect contractors to take the President’s directive seriously and deploy the best technology.